Montreal universities get $213 million for AI, big data research


The Universite de Montreal, Polytechnique Montreal and HEC Montreal will receive $213,187,000 for three research projects dedicated to artificial intelligence and big data, medical technologies and neuroinformatics.

The major funding announcement was made Tuesday by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, via Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, on behalf of the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. It’s part of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund

“This significant funding recognizes our campus’s strengths in data science and gives us the means to breathe new life into Montreal’s economic dynamics and actively contribute to the fourth industrial revolution,” said HEC’s director, Dr. Michel Patry.

“Artificial intelligence and operational research are expanding at lightning speed,” added Dr. Guy Breton, Universite de Montreal’s rector. “Our researchers, who have been at the forefront of these amazing advancements, are well positioned to lead in new developments that will benefit their public and private partners. The Government of Canada’s major investments will allow us to build on our head start and help a greater number of people.”

The Universite de Montreal tweeted that $93 million of the funding will go towards the school’s artificial intelligence lab, headed up by AI and Machine Learning posterboy Dr. Yoshua Bengio.

The funding is part of a landmark investment of $900 million in 13 post-secondary institutions through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. The Fund strategically invests in areas where Canada’s post-secondary research institutions have the key research strengths to become global leaders.

IVADO, the alliance of Universite de Montreal, Polytechnique Montreal and HEC Montreal, is proposing a transformative and far-reaching strategy for exploring artificial intelligence and big data: research to provide computers with quasi-human-level performance. Polytechnique Montreal will leverage its cutting-edge, university/hospital infrastructure to shape the future of diagnosis/prognosis, intervention and medical technologies for complex diseases through its Montreal TransMedTech (MT2) Institute initiative. At McGill, the university’s Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives project will establish a hub for neuroinformatics and accelerate translational discoveries that will improve brain health in Canada and around the world.

The 10 other initiatives funded today focus on developing areas of similar competitive advantage. They include sustainably developing our oceans; developing next-generation medical technologies; increasing the capacity, sustainability and safety of our food production systems; and improving human brain health.

The initiatives were selected for funding following an open competitive process among Canadian post-secondary institutions. The competition was judged by a panel of Canadian and international scientific experts.

“Our capacity for breakthroughs in treatment of brain disorders and our ability to improve lives will be heightened significantly by this important new funding,” said Dr. Suzanne Fortier, McGill’s vice-chancellor.

The three projects and the amount of money each received are:

Universite de Montreal: Deep Learning and Montreal Optimization for the Knowledge Revolution – $93,562,000

McGill University Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL) – $84,000,000

The “Montreal TransMedTech (MT2) Institute”: Polytechnique open-innovation ecosystem for the development of next generation medical technologies – $35,625,000

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